This month marks the 392nd year since the Mayflower landed on what is now known as Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Blown off course from their original destination and having landed at the beginning of winter, half of these brave men, women, and children died after their first winter in this country. [1]

The survivors, befriended by the Indians, held a feast the following Fall to thank God and their new friends for the abundant harvest. [2] This is the origin of our modern Thanksgiving celebration. [3] As we look forward to this year’s commemoration of this long-standing tradition, remember the legacy of these brave colonists who risked everything to build a Biblical culture in this country.
Interestingly, some of our Founding Fathers were direct descendants of these hearty Christian settlers, including distinguished men like John Adams, John Trumbull, and Noah Webster. These descendants openly maintained the faith of their forefathers and continued their open thankfulness to God. In fact, Noah Webster, “The Schoolmaster to America,” and a descendant of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, defined (in his 1828 Dictionary) Thanksgiving as:

A public celebration of Divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of His bounties. The practice of appointing an annual thanksgiving originated in New England. [4]

Additionally, numerous Presidents can trace their lineage to the Mayflower Pilgrims, including John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Bush, and George W. Bush. [5] They also honored America’s faith in God with public proclamations  for thanksgiving celebrations, thereby following the practice established by first president
George Washington for “‘a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.’” [6]
This Thanksgiving, may we, as President George Bush declared in his 1989 Thanksgiving proclamation, be “like the Pilgrims who first settled in this land, [and] offer praise to God for His goodness and generosity and rededicate ourselves to lives of service and virtue in His sight.” [7]

As you gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving to help remember the legacy of faith handed down through the generations and to celebrate God’s blessings on this great nation, you can:

  1. Read some of the historic Thanksgiving sermons and proclamations.
  2. Share this information with your family and friends so that they, too, can honor the spirit of Thanksgiving.
  3. Remember those who are in need or less fortunate this season of thanks, and go out of your way to help someone in need and be a blessing to them.
  4. Most importantly, take time to intentionally and deliberately thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on you, your family, and this country.

From all of us at WallBuilders, have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving!



[1] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.
[2] Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.
[3] Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: Johnson, Wilson & Co., 1875), p. 372.
[4] Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. “Thanksgiving.”
[5] See for example “The Pilgrims of the Mayflower,” Pilgrim Monument: Provincetown Museum (at: http://pilgrim-monument.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Pilgrims-Bio-Information.pdf) (accessed on November 21, 2012); Gary Boyd Roberts, “#42 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Yankee Ancestors, Mayflower Lines, and Royal Descents and Connections of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.,” American Ancestors, December 1, 1999 (at: http://www.americanancestors.org/arthur-ochs-sulzberger-jr/).
[6] George Washington, A Proclamation (New York: 1789), for November 26, 1789.
[7] George Bush, Thanksgiving Day, 1989 – A Proclamation (1989), for November 23, 1989.